Public letter from academics on AHRC decision to promote Big Society research

188 academics, mainly from the UK, have signed a letter published in today’s Observer newspaper, on the decision by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to prioritise funding for research relating to the ‘big society’. The text of the letter is below, along with the list of signatories.

“We were appalled that the Arts and Humanities Research Council intends to promote research on “the big society” as part of its current funding settlement (“Academic fury over order to study the big society“, News). That the AHRC has apparently volunteered to do this is all the more craven. When academic research is used to promote party political ideologies its quality and value decline. It also threatens democracy and the constitution. While academic work may be partly paid for out of public funds, this ought not to be the same thing as working for the government. Our concern is independent of the merit of the idea of the big society, and would be the same if at stake were “the third way”, or anything equivalent.

“We call upon the AHRC to explain its decision, to distance itself from the promotion of the big society agenda, and to state categorically that it is not seeking to ingratiate itself with current party political priorities. Should it not, we will strongly advise that those supporting the AHRC through their work consider whether they are happy still to do so.”

Dr Gideon Calder, University of Wales, Newport, Prof James Ladyman, University of Bristol, Prof Jane Aaron, University of Glamorgan, Dr Sian Adiseshiah, University of Lincoln, Dr Sophie Allen, University of Oxford, Dr Sarah Amsler, Aston University, Prof Richard Ashcroft, Queen Mary, University of London, Dr Rowland Atkinson, University of York, Dr David Bain, University of Glasgow, Dr Andrew Balmer, University of Sheffield, Dr Gary Banham, Manchester Metropolitan University, Maria Beamont, Institute of Education, Prof Richard Bellamy, University College London, Dr Phillippa Bennett, University of Northampton, Prof Ted Benton, University of Essex, Dr Gurminder Bhambra, University of Warwick, Tamsin Bowers-Brown, Sheffield Hallam University, Dr Simon Bradford, Brunel University, Michael Brady, University of Glasgow, Dr Maud Brake, University of Glasgow, Dr Iain Brassington, University of Manchester, Prof Bob Brecher, University of Brighton, Zoë Brigley Thompson , University of Northampton, Dr Thom Brooks, Newcastle University, Katrina Brown, James Hutton Institute, Dr Anne Brunton, Buckinghamshire New University, Ben Burbridge, Courtauld Institute of Art, Dr Stephen Burwood, University of Hull, Dr Mikel Burley, University of Leeds, Dr Angus Cameron, Leicester University, Prof Joyce Canaan, Birmingham City University, Dr Fenella Cannell, London School of Economics, Peter Cave, Open University, Dr Angelo Cei , University of Leeds, Dr Richard Chamberlain, University of Northampton, Prof Terrell Carver, University of Bristol, Dr Ben Colburn, University of Glasgow, Prof David Colquhoun, University College, London, Prof Mark Cowling, University of Teesside, Dr John Croft, Brunel University, Dr Justin Cruickshank, University of Birmingham, Dr Edmund Dain, University of Chicago, Dr John Deering, University of Wales, Newport, Dr Carol Azumah Dennis, University of Hull, Foad Dizadji-Bahmani, London School of Economics, Dr Felicity Callard, King’s College London, Dr Simon Cross, Nottingham Trent University, Dr Christos Dermentzopoulos, University of Ioannina, Prof Andrew Dobson, Keele University, Ciara Doyle, University of Greenwich, Dr Jamie Dow, University of Leeds, Dr Nadia Edmond, University of Brighton, Dr Carrie Etter, Bath Spa University, Prof Max Farrar, Leeds Metropolitan University, Dr Michael Farrelly, Open University, Dr Paola Filippucci, University of Cambridge, Prof Maureen Freely, University of Warwick, Prof Stephen French, University of Leeds, Dr Steve Garner, Aston University, Anne Gill, University of Greenwich, Dr Andrew Goffey, Middlesex University, Dr Sara Gonzalez, University of Oxford, Leo Goretti, University of Reading, Prof Jonathan Gorman, Queen’s University Belfast, Dr Hugo Gorringe, University of Edinburgh, Prof Tim Gorringe, University of Exeter, Dr Naomi Goulder, University of Bristol, Dr Iain Grant, University of the West of England, Dr Stephen H Gregg, Bath Spa University, Pat Green, University of Wolverhampton, Dr  David Griffiths, Open University, Dr Ian Ground, North-East Centre for Lifelong Learning, Dr Katerina Hadjimatheou, University of Birmingham, Dr Richard Hall, De Montfort University, Prof Martin Halliwell, University of Leicester, Dr James Hampshire, University of Sussex, Dr Edward Harcourt, University of Oxford, Prof Nick Havely, University of York,  Dr Graeme Hayes, Aston University, Tom Hickey, University of Brighton, Dr Tracey Hill, Bath Spa University, Prof Joanna Hodge, Manchester Metropolitan University, James Hodgson, University of Manchester, Prof John Holmwood, University of Nottingham, Dr Hannah Holtschneider, University of Edinburgh, Dr Muir Houston, University of Glasgow, Dr Phil Hutchinson, Manchester Metropolitan University, Dr Jones Irwin, Dublin City University, Milena Ivanova (University of Bristol, Dr Gabrielle Ivinson, Cardiff University, Mark Jago, University of Nottingham, Prof Christopher Janaway, University of Southampton, Jane Clare Jones, Stony Brook University, Jennifer Jones, University of the West of Scotland, Dr Paul Jones, University of York, Dr Chris Joyce, University of Surrey, Dr Robert Jubb, University College London, Dr Peter Kail, University of Oxford, Dr David Karli, University of Oxford, Dr Tony Kearon, Keele University, Eamonn Kelly, University of Wales, Newport, Dr Stephen Kemp, University of Edinburgh,  Dr Ian James Kidd, University of Durham, Paul Kirby, London School of Economics, Dr Simon Kirchin, University of Kent, Dr Kelvin Knight, London Metropolitan University, Prof Dudley Knowles, University of Glasgow, Dr Patrizia Kokot, Aberystwyth University, Prof Cecile Laborde, University College London, Assoc. Prof. Anthony J. Langlois, Flinders University, Joel Lazarus, University of Oxford, Jurate Levina, University of York, Dr D. K. Levy, University of Edinburgh, Patrick Lockley, University of Nottingham, Dr Michael Loughlin (Manchester Metropolitan University, Dr Stella Maile, University of the West of England, Dr Sara MacKian, Open University, Benjamin Madden, University of York, Dr Hans Maes, University of Kent, Alpesh Maisuria, Anglia Ruskin University, Dr Emma Major, University of York, Dr Vicky Margree, University of Brighton, Prof Luke Martell, University of Sussex, Dr Vivienne Matthies-Boon, Groeningen University, Dr Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen, University of Leiden, Dr Dean Machin, University of Warwick, Lucy Mayblin, University of Warwick, Dr David McCallam, University of Sheffield, Dr Conor McHugh, University of Southampton, Dr Esther McIntosh, York St John University, Kerry McKenzie, University of Leeds, Dr Monica McLean, University of Nottingham, Dr John McTague, University of Oxford, Dr Saladin Meckled-Garcia, University College London,  Dr David Mellor, University of Bristol, Prof Michael Meranze, University of California, Los Angeles, Prof David Mond, University of Warwick, Dr Michelle Montague, University of Bristol, Dr Seiriol Morgan, University of Bristol, Dr David Morgans, University of Wales, Trinity St David, Dr Philip Moriarty, University of Nottingham, Dr Liz Morrish, Nottingham Trent University, Dr Staffan Müller-Wille, University of Exeter, Jonathan Neale, Bath Spa University, Prof Mark T. Nelson, Westmont College, Prof Christopher Norris, Cardiff University, Prof Michael Northcott, University of Edinburgh, Dr Gillian Olumide, Swansea University, Prof Martin O’Shaughnessy, Nottingham Trent University), Prof William Outhwaite, Newcastle University, Chrys Papaioannou, University of Leeds, Dr Constantina Papoulias, Middlesex University, Sarah Pett, University of York,  Dr Lynne Pettinger, University of Essex, Dr Dawn M. Phillips, University of Oxford, Prof Adrian Piper, APRA Foundation Berlin, Dr Bob Plant, University of Aberdeen, Justin Pollard, University of Exeter,  Dr Thomas Porter, University of Manchester, Prof Scott Poynting, Manchester Metropolitan University, Dr Deborah Price, King’s College London, Dr Irene Rafanell, University of the West of Scotland, Dr Dwijen Rangnekar, University of Warwick, Paul Reynolds, Edge Hill University, Dr Adam Rieger, University of Glasgow, Dr Enzo Rossi, University of Wales, Newport, Prof Andrew Samuels, University of Essex, Prof Jennifer Saul, University of Sheffield, Prof Sean Sayers, University of Kent,  Dr Jonathan Seglow, Royal Holloway, University of London, Dr Evangelia Sembou, Prof Steve Smith, University of Wales, Newport, Prof Kate Soper, London Metropolitan University, Dr Ewen Speed, University of Essex,  Dr James Sprittles, University of Birmingham,  Richard Stopford, University of Durham,  Dr Judith Suissa, Institute of Education, Dr Adam Swift, University of Oxford, Dr Georgia Testa, University of Leeds, Dr Mark Thakkar, University of Oxford, Dr Nick Treanor, University of Cambridge, Dr David Tyfield, Lancaster University, Dr Pekka Väyrynen, University of Leeds, Alexandra Vereker, King’s College London, Dr Philip Walden, Dr Geoff Williams, University College London, Dr Christopher Woodard, University of Nottingham, Dr Sarah Young, University College London.

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